Friction or no, state Democrats urge DNC to bring national convention to Chicago
There's a one in four chance the Democratic National Committee will smile on Chicago by holding its 2024 national convention here, and Illinois leaders are working to shorten the odds.
DNC top brass in town for a two-day visit are being feted with haute cuisine, the Jesse White Tumblers and even some drama about who the next Illinois Democratic Party chair will be.
"Chicago is the only choice," Mayor Lori Lightfoot said at a news conference Tuesday. She cited the city's "experience hosting major, large-scale events every year, all year round" and "strategic Midwestern location."
The advantage for the region is that "a DNC convention typically generates $150 million to $200 million into the local economy of the city that's hosting it," Lightfoot added.
The mayor also thanked Sen. Tammy Duckworth of Hoffman Estates, a DNC vice chairman, for being "fully engaged" in ensuring Chicago is the 2024 host.
"Chicago is the ideal location for the 2024 Democratic National Convention because Chicago and Illinois are proof that we are stronger when we bring our unique experiences and perspectives to the table," said Duckworth, who was in Washington and could not attend the briefing.
"Beyond that, bringing the DNC to Chicago will help bolster our local economy for some of our hardest-hit industries over the past few years, infusing hundreds of millions of dollars into the local economy."
Other locales in contention are New York City, Atlanta and Houston.
DNC Chairman Jaime Harrison gave no hints on the favorite, but said "we are looking for a city that represents the Democratic Party's values: diversity, inclusion, opportunity." And he recognized the diversity of Democrats at the event ranging from Lightfoot, to Gov. J.B. Pritzker, Congressman Jesus "Chuy" Garcia and Congresswoman Robin Kelly.
Amid the COVID-19 pandemic in summer 2020, "we didn't get a chance to have a regular convention," Harrison said. "This will be the first time in four years in which America will see Joe Biden and Kamala Harris and all of the things they have accomplished and achieved and hear their stories."
Gov. J.B. Pritzker told DNC officials that Chicago not only offers diversity; it also offers expertise in producing major events safely and professionally. "Chicago is the convention capital of the world."
And, "hosting the DNC in Chicago will bring thousands of good-paying, labor-friendly jobs to our city and to our state," Pritzker said.
But questions to the governor centered not on the convention but on the Democratic Party of Illinois' Saturday election of a new chair for a four-year term.
Kelly of Matteson is the current chair and replaced disgraced former Speaker Michael Madigan. But Pritzker has thrown his considerable clout behind state Rep. Elizabeth Hernandez of Cicero amid questions over Kelly's fundraising abilities.
Asked about the friction as the party tries to show its best face to the DNC, Pritzker said, "we're all standing here in unison, standing up for a Democratic convention for Chicago and for the state of Illinois. After Saturday, we're going to have a chair of the Democratic Party of Illinois. Whoever that is, is going to serve a four-year term and we're all rallying around the Democratic Party of Illinois for the next four years and around that chair."
After the event, Kelly said, "we are all united on bringing the convention to Chicago." She added, "any division doesn't help. But hopefully we can rise above it."